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Previously: The Camry gets an oil change
INTERSTATE 39, SOUTH OF ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS—”Excuse me, I just need to stretch this out.” Jenny pardons herself as a Nike sneaker appears over my right shoulder. 12 hours in the Camry, and some of us are getting a little stiff.
As “the last vestiges of the sun disappear into the west” (Dad has taken to waxing poetic), we press onward. After the last cassette, an Art Garfunkel concert (typical onstage comment from Art: “The acoustics here are so good, the dome over the stage here must be the same shape as the roof of my mouth!”), we’ve finally hit rock bottom with Dad’s tape collection. Let me tell you, there is just nothing as nice at the end of a long day of driving as the silky strings of Mantovani.
“Keep it under 65—no need to rush,” instructs Dad when I’m at the wheel. “We’ve got plenty of miles and hours ahead.” Just why this fact suggests going slower eludes me—but far be it from me to question the wisdom of my elders.
Given that we didn’t visit any Navy buddies or historic attractions today, it was a good thing that we had three interesting meals. Breakfast was of the continental variety, free at the Ramada this morning. It was served in the “breakfast room” (so labeled with a bronzish placard), where I sat munching my bagel, watching the Kevin Costner classic The Postman and listening to another group of guests converse about why an acquaintance is no longer drumming for Mary J. Blige (he was canned for getting too fancy with his licks).
Lunch, in northern Kentucky, was the brunch buffet at Shoney’s. The restaurant was filled with folks in their Sunday best, apparently stopping in for the Shoney’s special after church. (The way the place emptied out right on schedule, I was led to speculate that local liturgy schedules were coordinated with the Shoney’s buffet hours.) I have a friend who once drove across the country, stopping at every Shoney’s along the way. Despite enjoying the macaroni and cheese very much (I could just picture the kitchen staff stirring a shimmering vat of Sysco cheese sauce), I am not tempted to replicate that feat.
Dinner, finally, was at a faux Australian place somewhere in southern Illinois. Deciding to eat light after our lunchtime Shoney’s spectacular, we shared an appetizer and each had a salad and a dessert. For having eaten “light,” we felt somewhat overfull afterwards (“like a balloon,” said Dad), but Jenny, a newly minted registered nurse, assured us that the fat from the dessert would adhere to the fiber from the salad and not be absorbed. We took heart.
So on we press. Will we stop? When? Where? Ever?
NEXT DISPATCH: Home, theoretically.
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